Some Suggestions

Recently a friend of mine presented me with their workout plan and asked for some feedback to make it more appropriate and productive. They gave permission for me to post our exchange. There are quite a few times where I say “it depends”, mostly because it really does depend on having a more detailed discussion of goals, weaknesses, etc. But take a look at the overview and suggestions/corrections to see if any tips help you with your own workout design.

Original Email
I’d love your input on this program I wrote. My goals are to just gain strength/some power and get back into a routine for lifting. I haven’t done anything super structured for awhile. Worried I didn’t give myself enough resting days. I’m only doing Active Rest (AR) twice a week. Let me know if you can’t get some of my abbreviations (used by default bc of my Pt office sorry). Thx!

Monday- Upper Extremity + core
Shoulder mobility warm up
Pull ups (5×6)
Push ups (5X6)
DB shrugs (5×6)
Bench Press (5×6)
Cable Column Face Pulls (5X6)
Cable Column PnF (5×6)
DB on bench Ts, Ys, Is (5×6)

Hanging Toes to bar (3x 30)
V ups (3x 30)
Mountain Climbers (3x 30)
3 way planks (4x 1 min each way)

Foam rollstretch/lacross ball with cool down

Tuesday- Cardio
Active warm up
Run (treadmill)- 5% incline, intervals 40 secs on/20 off) for 20 mins
Bike for 20 mins
Erg for 10 mins
Jump rope for 5 mins

Foam roll/stretch/lacrosse ball with cool down

Wed- Lower Extremity
Active warm up
Deadlifts (5×6)
DB Step ups (5×6)
Barbell snatch (5×6)
Single leg wall sits (5×1 min each leg)
DB Sumo Squat with calf raise at bottom (5×6)

Foam roll/stretch/lacrosse ball with cool down

Thursday- AR
Swim (30 mins)

Friday- Upper Extremity + core
Shoulder mobility warm up
OH Press (5×6)
Bent over Barbell row (5×6)
Flys (5×6)
Incline bench (5×6)
Dips (5×6)
Diamond push ups (5×6)
Farmer Carry (5 laps)
DB Scaption, Flexion, ABD (5×6)

Pike roll outs on Physio ball (3×30 each way)
Russian twist with Medicine ball (3×1 min)
Hanging bar knees to chest twist (4x 1 min)

Foam roll/stretch/lacross ball with cool down

Saturday- AR
Swim (30 mins)

Sunday- Lower Extremity/Plyos
Back Squats with Theraband loop ABD and calf raise on top (5×6)
3- way Jesus lunge (5×6)
Clean and Jerk (5×6)
Single Leg Hamstring roll out on Physio Ball (5×6)
Back Extentions/Side dips (5×6)

Box jumps (3×5)
Lateral hops over hurdle (3×5)
Jumping Split squats (3×5)
Vertical Depth Jump (3×5)
Box march (3×5)
Long Jumps (3×5)

Foam roll/stretch/lacross ball with cool down

My Response
1) Your goals are not specific enough. Have more specific long and short term goals. “Just gain strength/some power” = too vague leads to poor motivation and not measurable. What weight do you want to move, which specific exercise do you want to improve, which body movement needs to be stronger, which range of motion needs to be fixed, what body fat are you aiming for, what speed are you trying to get to, how many hours are you going to dedicate to exercising, etc, etc?

2) General guideline: unless your goal is more specific (ie to improve your deadlift), most programming usually has a squat planned earlier in the week than a deadlift. Because people should be able to deadlift more than they can squat and it is a large taxation on the nervous system, it can be detrimental to your squat progress, but it’s not usually the other way around. This is a general guideline and you may choose to program differently based on your particular goals.

3) General guideline: Usually the exercises for which you are using heavier weight should be before the others. You put your bench press after your pushups. To get stronger, you need to move as much weight as possible. That happens on the bench, not the pushup, which is awkward to load. As I always say, this is a general guideline and if your goal happens to be focusing on your pushups/you are going to load your pushups/whatever, then they should be first. But if that’s not your goal, you are going to tire yourself out doing pushups and not be able to lift as much weight on the bench press. So focus on the exercises you can really load up. That means put them first.

4) Keep working your deadlift and OH press up to some legit weights. Shrugs are unnecessary right now.

5) General guideline: power/explosive exercises happen before strength exercises. You put your barbell snatch after deadlifts and other exercises, you put your clean and jerk after your squats and lunges. You are not going to be moving very fast by that point – defeats the purpose of a power exercise. Also, see #9.

6) It looks like you could use more upper body pulling. Seems like more pushing than pulling exercises, leading to imbalances. Should be the other way around.

7) “DB sumo squat w calf raise at bottom” = why?

8) Russian twists are likely bad for your lumbar spine. Replace them with anti-rotation of some sort.

9) Why is all your plyo work at the end of the week when you are tired and your muscles are shot? Regardless, I wouldn’t worry too much about power work until you get generally bigger and stronger. However high you can jump now, if you make your legs stronger, you will jump higher than that, even without doing box jumps, because you haven’t been training to your strength potential.

10) The extra biking, rowing, and jumping rope after your interval running is unnecessary and will make it more difficult for you to gain muscle and get stronger. Just work on extending your interval training time and don’t add the extra slow, steady stuff. Unless you are worried that despite all your training you will be incapable of jogging at a comfortable pace….

11) Once you get rid of all that extra slow stuff on the “cardio” day (call it interval day instead. all heavy lifting is good cardio), add one of the swimming sessions to the end of that day if you want to relax your muscles and remove lactic acid. That will give you a day of total rest.

Happy Lifting!